by Bob Geary
[UPDATE: 5/25 — David Lamotte put his thoughts in writing before going to the General Assembly. "Why I Am in Jail" is on the N.C. Council of Churches website. Here's an excerpt:
" ... I would argue that what is right and what is legal sometimes come into conflict, and when they do, our allegiance to God’s teaching should be stronger than our allegiance to the state. To repeal the Racial Justice Act, to gut public education funding in favor of vouchers for private schools, to prevent federal unemployment money from reaching needy state recipients (when this has no impact on the state budget), to restrict access to the polls by requiring photo IDs, to stop a whole host of services to the poor, from disability funding to health programs to legal representation, stopping same-day registration, stopping Sunday voting, etc. — these things are unconscionable."]
The original post from 5/24 —
I arrived at the General Assembly this afternoon just after the incident that resulted in the Rev. William Barber's arrest. Barber, state head of the NAACP, was there for a "people's budget" session that began at 4 p.m. in the 3rd floor auditorium. Before it began, he and a few others entered the House gallery and, a witness told me, Barber called down to House Speaker Thom Tillis, who was presiding at the rostrum, that he was seeking a meeting with Tillis. Guards quickly surrounded Barber and a few others. One of the guards, the witness said, was "very assertive," which prompted Barber's group to start singing. Other guards arrived, and the group was taken into custody. When I came into the building, they were being held in one of the first floor meeting rooms in the General Assembly building. Later, they were escorted out. (I see from the N&O's report that the other six include the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, an NAACP officer from Durham, and David LaMotte, who works for the N.C. Council of Churches.)
Barber, because of his back condition, was taken separately to an ambulance for transport to the Wake jail.
While the police were escorting Barber to an elevator, Tillis came out of a stairwell and the two — I think quite unexpectedly on Tillis's part — were briefly eye to eye. Barber repeated that he was asking for a meeting. Tillis, turning on a dime, said to everyone listening that he'll meet with anyone who treats his House with respect.
Tillis's reference to the House as his House didn't sit well with Barber's supporters. "This is not his house," said Maubia Melendez, a woman from Charlotte. "This is the house of the people. They're not here to serve a party line. They're here to serve the people."
As he was taken away, Barber led his followers in a couple of chants. One: "Fund education, not incarceration."
The link above — here it is again — will take you to a story on the N&O's website with more details. I captured a bit of the scene on my telephone camera as the police waited for an elevator to take Barber from the building. Here it is: